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Knocking At the Door: Canadian collision industry weighs in on drivers of labour shortage

Toronto, Ontario — Canada is facing a skilled worker shortage. Even in the sparkle and shine that is the collision repair industry, little help can be found.

This Spring, Collision Repair magazine shared asking readers to respond to questions related to apprentice onboarding within the industry. Collision centre owners and managers were urged to complete the survey in order to provide an accurate reflection of industry statistics.

According to survey results, more than 60 percent of industry respondents indicated having at least one apprentice within their repair centre: 19 percent indicated having only one apprentice in the shop, while 38.1 percent reported having more than one, leaving 42.9 percent of respondents with no apprentices on the production floor.

When asked how many apprentices collision centres take on in a typical year, the reader’s response was split; 57.1 percent indicated hiring only one to two each year, with 42.9 percent–presumably, the same respondents who indicated they had no apprentices currently on staff–indicating that they take on zero apprentices per year.

These statistics show that, while the number of shops that hire apprentices is split approximately 50/50, no shop responding was able/willing to hire more than 2 apprentices in a given year.

Finally, the question of quality apprenticeship was met with a troubling response. When asked the question: In the last five years, have you found it more difficult to find quality apprentices? reader-response indicated that the majority of owners and management do, in fact, have a hard time finding quality work, with 81 percent of facilities answering yes to the above question.

Only 14.3 percent of respondents felt that quality apprenticeship was still available to find, with less than five percent indicating that they are not hiring at all.

The additional comments section of the survey revealed disillusionment with the Canadian Apprenticeship system. One respondent writes that “finding young people who want to work and put the effort in to learn the trade is near impossible.”

Most comments pointed to the lack of promotion within the public school system as a fundamental issue. Another respondent notes that “[In Atlantic, Canada,] the loss of vocational [trade schools] learning centres has left the trades in desperation when it comes to attracting new talent.”

Other comments point to low-door rates as a potential issue, one respondent stating bluntly, “autobody industry door rates are too low to attract people into the trade.”

Survey results were sourced from 25 respondents working in Canada’s Collision Repair community. 

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One Response

  1. Companies that have had apprentices on payroll are probably missing out on the tax credits available to them. Employers are just not claiming the maximum available. We have recovered millions of dollars in this area across Canada. Free analysis.
    In business since 1988.

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